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Saturday, October 23, 2010

A new chapter for Kasey Kahne, and is this the end of Richard Petty Motorsports?

Kasey Kahne is free.

As I predicted earlier this week, his relationship with Richard Petty Motorsports came to an end after his decision not to get back in the car last weekend. They made the announcement without even telling Kahne.

And he’s probably cool with that, because he didn’t want to be there anyway. You could tell that was the case from the moment he announced in the middle of the 2010 season that he was going to Hendrick Motorsports … in 2012.

Now he can get a new start at Red Bull Racing … a 5-race warmup for his 2011 ride, which he will drive before moving to the #5 Hendrick ride. It’s likely Red Bull will switch to Chevy next year, as I distinctly remember Rick Hendrick saying they’d find him a ride in a Chevy somewhere in 2011.

Meanwhile, RPM is in shambles, and I really feel bad for A.J. Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose, two solid drivers who might be out of luck if RPM goes belly up. They both have expressed concerns about their 2011 situation, but are still hoping for the best … and I wish them luck considering the happenings of this week.

The team briefly had some cars repossessed this week due to nonpayment, and the team apparently owes people a lot of money. At this point the team “thinks” it will finish out the year.

Quite frankly, this sounds like a very desperate time for the team, which will probably be very downsized if it survives at all. Richard Petty (just a figurehead despite the name of the team), Ray Evernham and anyone else with ties to the team is probably hoping to distance themselves as soon as possible.

So the Kahne incident was just one more example of what happens when a team isn’t run properly. The cars aren’t as good, so you get angry drivers, which lead to the incidents like we saw last week.

To see a team go from four cars to extinction within one year is unheard of, but it could happen here. Don’t worry about the Petty name being tarnished … that team went downhill long before they merged with the Gillett team.

And if I were A.J. or Marcos, I might check if any other options were open, just in case.

Speed out of a ride
Meanwhile, in a related matter, Red Bull’s team is full of news this week. In addition to Kasey’s arrival to drive the #83, it was announced that Scott Speed won’t be back with the team in 2011, when the team will consist of Kahne in the #82 (which may switch to #4), and Brian Vickers returning in the #83.

Where will Speed go? Based on his record, which has glimpses of hope but not much success at the Cup level, I don’t think you’ll see him in any top ride. He could probably land somewhere, but if he can’t compete I suppose going back to open wheel racing is an option (but even that’s doubtful, as his Formula 1 tenure was pretty lackluster, too.)

I like Scott Speed, but I have to be honest: His future is quite murky right now.

Who’s the restart king?
Earlier this year, Kyle Busch made a remark that he should be called the Restart King, not Ron Hornaday … At Martinsville, Hornaday let his actions speak by beating Kyle on several restarts and taking the win in Saturday’s truck series race.

I’m guessing Kyle didn’t repeat his bid to transfer the Restart King title after that finish.

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